Embracing Freedom (Not Guilt) When Taking Control and Doing Things Your Way

Embracing Freedom (Not Guilt) When Taking Control & Doing Things Your Way

When I blogged earlier this week, it was for the first time in months. If you’ve been a long-time follower, you know that there have been other seasons when I’ve backed away for various reasons. Life happens, people. I have learned a great deal about myself through the process of blogging, writing at my own pace, seeking traditional publication, and ultimately choosing to independently publish my book.

In many ways, I’ve gone against the flow of some of my peers enough now that I’ve learned to let go of the guilt and insecurities and instead embrace the freedom that comes with realizing I’m in charge of my own life.

Now, before I go on, let me be clear. I am in NO WAY saying that those who find themselves on the more well-paved path of any journey in life are going about it the wrong way and giving up control. In fact, just the opposite. Whatever you do, whichever road you take — be it paved in gorgeous cobblestones or totally uncharted — you’re the driver. Own it.

Some things I’ve learned about myself through the last year of navigating my path I’ve actually known deep down for a long time. I just never wanted to admit it. Because in my head, what are actually truths about me were being filtered through some crazy cultural (maybe emotional, too) machine that spewed out a distorted lie. Here are a few examples of lies I grew to believe and the truths I’ve had to rediscover.

LIE: I am lazy.
TRUTH: I have high standards and feel paralyzed when I feel overwhelmed.

LIE: If I can’t produce (book writing) on a regular schedule, I am a failure.
TRUTH: My value is in Christ and not in my accomplishments.

LIE: I am too emotional and irrational.
TRUTH: God made me a highly sensitive person and He has plans to use it for good.

I like those truths much better. They give me life instead of stealing my joy. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that not working at the same energetic pace as my husband, for instance, who can get more done in the blink of an eye than I can in a whole weekend, made me less-than. I convinced myself that being emotional most of the time equated to weaker.

Kill the Spider by Carol WhittakerA while back, I read Kill the Spider by Carlos Whittaker. In this straightforward personal account of battling demons, Carlos shares the brilliant concept that we’ve got to stop simply sweeping away the cobwebs and finally find and kill the spider producing them. (I admit to feeling gobsmacked by such a simple yet profound analogy!) I’ve realized that I’ve been feverishly sweeping away the cobwebs made up of lies like the ones listed above. But where was the spider spinning the webs? What does it look like and where does it hide?

For me, the spider is false identity. I’ve been putting my identity in things other than the Truth:

  • Teresa the Overweight
  • Teresa the Emotional Basketcase
  • Teresa the Lazy
  • Teresa the Overwhelmed
  • Teresa the Less-Than
  • Teresa the Out-of-Control
  • Teresa the Quick-to-Frustrate

There are so many to name that the resulting cobwebs became too thick to sweep away. And, so, my true identity became hidden behind a thick, sticky mass of cobwebs.

I lost sight of my one true identity:

  • Child of God, which makes me the Princess of the King of Glory!

Wow. Sounds like a WAY BETTER perspective to live by. It is the ONLY identity that matters. It is the true identity that informs all other parts of me. And living into THIS identity leaves me no choice but to cast off the lies and take joy in being in control of who God made me to be.

There is FREEDOM, friends, in doing things the way that feels right for you. I needed to take time off from writing until God placed back upon me the desire to create again based on His prompting. It may take me another three years to write a book, like it did the first time around. And if it does, that’s OK. I’ve got a lot of life going on in the background that’s just as important.

On Choosing Truth

On Choosing Truth | TeresaTysinger.com

I’ve been seeing a wonderful, divinely-matched-with-me therapist for several months now. She has helped me work through a lot of baggage that I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying. Generally speaking, she approaches our time together with kindness, compassion, and patience. She gently guides me to discover things on my own. Except for those times I’m just not getting it. In these instances, she hurdles truth bombs at me with the grace and strength of an Olympic shot-putter. A smirk and crooked eyebrow raised heavenward follow her overhanded delivery of truth and I know it’s time to stop talking and listen.

Have you ever realized how stubborn we humans are? Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are told things just to turn around and test the truth for ourselves. “You say I can’t have this fruit? Nah, it’ll be fine.” We grow into taller, more educated toddlers who need daily reminders of basic truths. God loves us fiercely (John 3:16). With Christ on our side we can do really hard things (Philippians 4:13). All of our mistakes and sins can be completely forgiven (1 John 1:9). We are never too far away that God can’t reach us (John 10:27-28, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20). At our lowest moments, God not only is with us but God can take even our hardest, most awful emotions (Romans 8:26).

But something else has dawned on me recently. God’s steady, constant voice is often a whisper, even when he wants to get our attention.

Then He said [to Elijah], “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

But, the voice of the Enemy is different — persistent, incessant, annoying, hard to ignore. And one of the hardest things about being given free will is that we must CHOOSE to listen for God’s whispers over the noise of lies.

"We must choose to listen for God's whispers over the noise of the Enemy's lies." | Quotes from TeresaTysinger.com

This quote from Jess Connolly stopped me in my tracks last week. “Don’t play telephone with the Enemy’s lies.” I sat with the following words in her Instagram post and let it sink in…

"Don't play telephone with the Enemy's lies." - Jess Connolly

You know when you hear that horrible thought? The one that’s so obviously a lie from the actual enemy of your soul? Maybe it comes via a thought, a spoken word from another human, or maybe even your own mouth. But as soon as you hear it: you know – this is some CRAZY STUFF that should not be repeated.
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But you know what I find myself doing? Repeating it. Telling someone else what I heard, processing how it made me feel, journaling about how real the lie seems even though I KNOW it’s not true. I was doing this just last night during worship, playing the refrain of a lie that I knew to be a lie – but still thinking on how painful it was, rather than thinking about how good my God is. I wanted to say the lie out loud, I wanted someone else to hear how bad it hurt – but I already knew THE TRUTH. And Holy Spirit said: You don’t have to play telephone with the enemy’s lies. You don’t have to pass that message around. You KNOW it’s some crazy trash, so why don’t you just stop thinking about it and replace it with some truth.
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We’re not always going to be able to tell truth from lies on our own, sometimes it takes the Word of God or a friend getting in our face and reminding us of the truth – but let’s stop playing telephone with the lies that we KNOW are lies. They just get murkier and more busted as we pass them on, replay them AND as we relay them. If it doesn’t line up with what God has written over you: stop repeating it. If it goes against the knowledge of a good and gracious Father who made you in His image: you can keep talking about how it makes you feel or you can just replace it with some TRUTH. The telephone game never did anybody any good and at some point if we want to live in the light, we’re going to have to put true words in our mouth and have our minds stayed on Him. Amen?

I’m tempted to outline my list of lies for you, but they DO NOT BEAR REPEATING. That gives them fuel for constructing walls high around and within my heart. But, no, that’s a place where God dwells. A place He keeps wide open and swept clean. I’m currently working on handwriting the Truths of God’s Word that whisper of my priceless worth like the lullaby of a mama rocking her treasure to sleep.

Only your whispers, God.

On Being Brave

On Being Brave | Teresa Tysinger, Creative & Encourager

Do you ever see or hear something repeatedly, enough times that you start to wonder if God’s trying to tell you something? It’s been like that this week for me. In fact, it’s like He’s standing on the side of the road wearing one of those bright orange construction vests lined with reflector material while holding a neon sign and screaming through a bull-horn. The message?

BE BRAVE.

Continue reading

I Gave Up Writing This Week

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I stepped in dog pee the other morning, just minutes after grumbling at my relentless alarm. It was the perfect sour cherry on top of what was shaping up to be a top-notch-awful-week sundae. Frustrations at work…laundry held hostage in the dryer…a master bedroom that housed my 8 year old on the floor in a sleeping bag most nights…friends whose birthdays came and went too quickly without a card making it into the mail…boxes of Girl Scout cookies left to sell…graying hair in need of coloring…a thickening waistline…and nagging deadlines for editing my first novel (that needs to be successful and renowned  by all who read it – ha). It all swirled in my head with a dizzying effect.

My wet foot dripped and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” cries filled the otherwise serene, still-dark living room. Something had to give. And soon.

Later that day I sat in my car during my lunch break and brainstormed what I could do to simplify this overwhelming life. I eventually circled around to my writing. Maybe this just isn’t the season of life to realistically achieve the goal of publishing.

Mixed Messages

Part of my problem is constantly trying to decipher the mixed messages to women of our culture:

Your top priority should be raising independent, well-adjusted children.

You have both the right to be an working professional woman, and the responsibility to continue paving the way for the next generation.

While you should not feel obligated to wed, if you do then your spouse should feel desired, encouraged, and taken care of.

You need A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, and P name-brand products, but should also be able to find a way to be debt free and ready for retirement by the age of 40.

How in the world do we wade through all of these voices? While the little white ball called “balance” winds this way and that, ping-ponging between work, home, family, friends, education, professional enrichment, personal goals, and others’ expectations we grow tired. Dizzy. Unsure which way to look and for how long.

This passage from Present Over Perfect by  Shawna Niequist struck a nerve.

I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin.

Can you relate?  For me, the life that has begun often doesn’t reflect the life I envisioned long ago. It’s more hectic. More demanding. More distracted. And, frankly, often less fulfilling.

My Plan for Taking Control

The lunch break in my car resulted in a plan. I didn’t want to give up being a good mom or wife or employee. My daughter needs me on my best game. My husband needs me to be less stressed and more attentive. My job deserves me to be more focused and dedicated.

So the writing can wait.

I made the decision sitting in the car that I’d find ways to write here and there whenever time presented itself. Just for fun. Maybe keep writing my short stories for my newsletters. But the book publishing would need to wait. It didn’t make the cut.

With a sigh of relief and to-do list suddenly much shorter, the week went on.

But something unexpected happened next.

The 30-Second Game Changer

Later that evening, after the kitchen was cleaned, homework was reviewed and fixed, bath time was overseen, and clothes were picked for the next day, my daughter called me into her room.

“Can I read you something, Mama?”

“Sure, but then it’s lights out.”

“Ok. I just wrote this…” She proceeded to read me a poem she’d written. It included metaphor, imagery, emotion, and a simple plot. It was good. My tired, overwhelmed heart flipped.

“Honey, that’s really good. I mean, really good.”

Then the kicker.

“I get it now. Why you write. This feels amazing. And I can’t wait for your book to come out,” she said with and understanding in her eyes that stopped me dead in my tracks.

In the simple 30-second exchange with my daughter over a six-line poem written in pencil in a ratty journal, the plan I’d made earlier in the day to give up writing suddenly didn’t make sense.

Publishing this book isn’t just a self-indulgence. Not just a hobby I’d love to share with others. It has purpose, meaning beyond my own desires. The process, not just the end result, is important for my daughter to see me go through – not for the struggle, but in spite of it. This renewed awareness of purpose in the process reminds me, too, that the story’s message of hope and grace and forgiveness (to each other and yourself) is one I believe God placed on my heart to tell others. If that’s not a priority worth keeping on top, I don’t know what is.

Life will still throw me curve balls. (Just in the last 24-hours, for instance, I had a flat tire, spilled a full glass all over the living room, and had to catch my dog’s urine in a bowl for a specimen to take the to vet.) This is life this side of heaven. Messy, frustrating, and overwhelming. But it’s also filled with 30-second blessings that remind us why we do what we do: because we are who God made us each to be.

I gave up writing this week. But I picked it right back up again.



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Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness

Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness via https://teresatysinger.com

Last week I lost track of the days and didn’t get September’s newsletter out on time. I’ve also been off-schedule a bit with posting here. I promised last week that I’d get out the September newsletter over the weekend. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll notice that didn’t happen. My heart hasn’t been in it to create. But I’m a writer. Creating with words is what I do. It’s how I contribute — why I’ve carved out this little area of the universe. Continue reading

Authors’ Open House: Melissa Tagg

The month-long Author's Open House at https:teresatysinger.com features various Christian authors chatting about books, reading, writing, and more!

As you read this, I’m either on my way to Nashville or already hugging the necks of lots of authors at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference. All but one of our Authors’ Open House visitors (Meghan Gorecki, Jaime Jo Wright, Mikal Dawn, Laurie Tomlinson, and next Tuesday’s guest Pepper Basham) will be there, as will today’s guest Melissa Tagg! The only one I won’t get to see is Rachel McMillan — but there’s always next time!

Author Melissa Tagg visits the Authors' Open House at https://teresatysinger.com

Today, I’m busting at the seams to welcome Melissa Tagg to the blog. Melissa stole my heart with her novel Like Never Before, which I reviewed not too long ago. She writes with such an effortless style that you forget you’re even reading. Characters who jump off the page and become your own friends. Sweet love stories that make you swoon and tingle all at the same time. To add to that, she’s just abut the sweetest person too. Of course, I’ve read her following post already and she’s blessed me with her wisdom and encouragement. Even if you’re not a writer, I bet you’ll enjoy her words.

Guess I better stop gushing and let Melissa get to it! Help me welcome Melissa by leaving her some love in the comments…


When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan

(Thanks soooo much for having me here today, Teresa!!)

I have to start this blog post with a shout-out to the one and only, super awesome, super sweet Beth Vogt. Beth is a fellow contemporary romance writer and I’m crazy blessed to call her friend.

One of the approximately one bazillion things I love about Beth Vogt is a line I’ve heard her say many a time: “God’s best often waits behind the doors marked ‘Never.’”

Ain’t that the truth. Some of my biggest “uh, life really isn’t going according to my plan” experiences have included those very doors.

I never want to give up campus life and study abroad, she says to a professor. (She would be me. I guess we’re going third-person for a couple seconds here.)

I never want to work at a small-town newspaper, she tells her friends.

I never want to leave small-town life for a bigger city, she decides post-college.

Well she had a blast in London, swears newspaper reporting is the best-ever job for a wannabe author, and moved to the big ol’ metropolis of Des Moines eight years ago.

I’m so convinced my “nevers” are triggers for God’s LOLs I’ve taken to saying things like:

I’ll never need endless free time to write and read and watch old movies.

I hope I never marry someone who will be okay with all my quirks—love of flannel and peanut butter and Needtobreathe included.

I never want to time-travel to interesting points in history.

Reverse psychology on God. I’m sure he gets a kick out of that. (I’m particularly hopeful He pays attention to that last one. Hello, Gilded Age!)

All joking aside, every time God has taken one of my “nevers” and turned it into a “been there-done that” situation, I end up awed. Every. Time.

And yet—let me get painfully honest for a minute—I’m a still a little scared of some of my lingering “nevers.” No, not the silly things I listed above. But actual nevers like:

I never want someone to hate my books.

I never want my dreams to let me down.

I never want to feel lost.

I never want to be lonely.

I never want…to fail.

These are nevers that scare me. But they’re also nevers I have a feeling I may face someday. They’re not doors I want to walk through and sometimes it’s hard for me to believe God’ best might actually be waiting for me there.

And yet…hasn’t life taught me over…and over…and over that my plans, most of which include this or that never, tend to be pretty short-sighted compared to God’s?

And hasn’t He proven over and over again, that I can trust Him?

That even if every never I’ve ever dreamed up turns into a reality, He’s on my side.

That even when my dreams turn inside out…or I feel lost or lonely…or I fail big time…He is still good. And faithful. And in fabulously good control.

And isn’t it true that when life doesn’t go according to my plan, it’s probably a good thing? Because my plan A may feel awesome…but God’s plan B is always, always better.


ABOUT MELISSA TAGG

Author Melissa Tagg visits the Authors' Open House at https://teresatysinger.comAuthor Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. Her latest novel, Like Never Before, was named by Publisher’s Weekly to their spring 2016 “Religion and Spirituality” Top 10 list. Upcoming books include Keep Holding On (Sept 2016) and One Enchanted Christmas (Nov 2016). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as retreats and workshops. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever–not that she’s biased–watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.


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TODAY’S TWEETABLE:

The #AuthorsOpenHouse welcomes @Melissa_Tagg, sharing
about when #life doesn’t go according to plan. — TWEET THIS!

Recharging

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As you read this, I’m traveling to North Carolina to meet up with my best friend. She’s my person. One of the few in this world who truly “get me.” Someone I can be 100% myself with at all times. We’ve laughed, cried, worried, prayed, parented, and traveled together. For the next four days, being with her will recharge me. Without fail, being with this friend provides a unique opportunity for me to regroup, breathe deep, and return home refreshed.

It doesn’t hurt that she lives in the exact area of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains that inspires much of my writing. Laurel Cove, the fictional town in my first novel, is inspired in part by Burnsville, the town in which my friend was born and raised. Now just a short few miles down the two lane highway, my friend lives amongst a tall dense forest, in view of a picturesque mountain lake. The refreshing, cool summer breezes are matched only by the subtle sweet scent of wildflowers and pine. It’s a slower pace at mom-and-pop cafes, roadside antique stores, and porch wind chimes. Only the rhythm of cloggers at summer festivals on the Parkway call a tap to your toes.

Doesn’t it sound enchanting? Trust me, it is.

I hope to get some great photos to share with you on this place that has soaked into my creativity and fed countless stories into my mind like the cold mountain springs. Stay tuned…while I’m away recharging.


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WHAT I’M CELEBRATING:

I am so grateful and excited to tell you that my not-yet published novel, Someplace Familiar, has placed 3rd in the Short Romance Category in the Touched By Love Award Contest, announced last night at the Faith Hope and Love Award Ceremony at the Romance Writers of America Conference taking place in San Diego! What a thrill!


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WHERE I’M WRITING:

Look for my guest post on learning from a child today over at Jennifer Slattery’s blog, Lives Out Loud. My daughter taught me something pretty special recently about being a child of God.

Surviving Disappointment

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Just in the past few weeks, an epidemic of disappointment has spread around me. In my life and in the lives of those I love, it has threatened to steal joy, extinguish dreams, and plant seeds of self-doubt. It seems the perfect time to consider weapons at our disposal to survive the inevitable force of disappointment. Continue reading